EPA Makes Insect Repellents Easier to Use

Jim Occi, BugPics, Bugwood.org

EPA is making insect repellents easier to use.

Whether you’d like to be able to find effective time/use information on the label of products you are considering, or you’d prefer to search online for information prior to purchasing a product, EPA has developed a solution.


The New Label Repellency Graphic

Beginning in 2016, it will be easier to easier the effective time of insect repellent products. Producers of skin-applied insect repellent products will now have the option to include a standardized repellency awareness graphic, which was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The initiative is intended to enhance public health information and to improve the clarity of pesticide product labeling for consumers. It was created in response to feedback obtained through focus groups and a national online survey conducted by EPA in 2010 and 2011, at which consumers indicated that they would like to have information

  • About which types of insects are repelled by a product.
  • On the number of hours those insects are repelled by the product
  • Displayed in large print on product labels in a clear, concise manner.

After also working with manufacturers, EPA developed the resulting graphic (see example on this page) to clearly communicate the estimated number of hours that mosquitoes and/or ticks are repelled by the product when used as directed. Prototypes of the graphic were presented to the consumers participating in the focus groups and national survey, with consumers indicating that they understood the meaning of the information in the graphic, and that they would be likely to look for this graphic when shopping for skin-applied insect repellents

Use of the graphic is not mandatory, rather companies must apply to EPA for permission to use the graphic on skin-applied insect repellent products subject to FIFRA registration requirements. It is intended to be displayed prominently on participating products for quick and easy identification by the consumer. In its guidance to manufacturers, EPA included requirements for credible information and science to support the repellency claims of the graphic, along with a method for calculating the number of hours claimed. EPA will review products that apply to use the graphic to ensure that their scientific data meet current testing protocols and standard evaluation practices.

The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to enhance public health information on, and to improve the clarity of, pesticide product labeling for consumers.


Online Insect-Repellent Product Search Tool

With EPA’s online insect-repellent product search tool, you can find an approved skin-applied insect repellent to guard against a specific insect for the specific amount of time you need, with an active ingredient you want. The results from the search tool will include EPA-registered skin-applied products that repel mosquitoes, ticks or both. No unregistered products are listed.

When choosing an insect repellent, you should consider the insect and protection time, along with any preferred active ingredient, and understand other product-specific information. For example,

  • Do you need protection from ticks, mosquitoes or both?
  • How long will you be exposed to them?
  • Are there any active ingredients you prefer to use – or prefer to avoid?

Because a single registered insect repellent product may have multiple product names that a company may use for marketing purposes, you can also look for the registration number on the label of a repellent product you have purchased, then enter the number in the database to find information on it.

​As a disclaimer, EPA also notes that the products listed are for informational purposes only. EPA and the U.S. Government do not endorse any product or service, so inclusion of a product listed/referenced is not an endorsement.


More Information

For more information on Insect Repellents, see: